Classic Canal Pubs #2: The Dragon At Willington

This one’s for the Southworths on their next trip to Blighty.  The transatlantic version of Ant and Dec spent last week visiting some classic pubs.

Bridgnorth, Leek, Preston, Manchester and Huddersfield were on their hit list in cahoots with a legion of nefarious characters such as Martin, who covers it far better than I would, Quosh, Mudgie and Stafford Paul to name but a few.

I think they really should branch out next time to some proper pub towns such as Derby and Nottingham and, en route, they could stop off for a one hour heavy drinking session ‘comfort break’ at Willington.

Dragon 20.10.19  (22).jpg

A cracking little village suburb of Derby which is not only a couple of minutes from the A50/A38, it also has a train station, bus route and the Trent & Mersey Canal running through it for good measure.

The real bonus of Willington though is the fact it has a trio of boozers in close proximity (about a thirty second walk between all three) and all deliver a tidy drop of cask.

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Filling a pub on a Sunday is relatively straightforward really, all you have to do is put on Manchester United v Liverpool on a big screen and the tourists will come flocking.

Even in a Derby stronghold such as this there are plenty of punters seduced by the Premier League and The Green Man was choc a bloc as I walked past at about 4pm.

A couple of blokes in Liverpool shirts and their sons in Willington FC tracksuits were just going in and when I popped my head in it looked as pubby as ever even though food is firmly on the menu.

Dragon 20.10.19  (16).jpg

The Rising Sun, which is opposite, and on the main island in the village, is very much wet led with decent beer but has struck up a deal with the local chippie whereby you can eat their chips in the pub if you buy a pint – genius!

This also looked rammed with the Man Utd and Liverpool game on in the background and a discarded chip box on the benches outside showed plenty of people were tucking in last night…

Dragon 20.10.19  (2).jpg

However, I chose to visit the boozer that sits firmly on the canal 15 – The Dragon DE65 6BP.

I’ve not blogged about this place for a couple of years, but it continues to mushroom in size and is part of the small Bespoke Inns chain that also owns The Boot and Harpur’s,

Dragon 20.10.19  (14).jpg

Of the three hostelries in the middle of Willington it’s probably the least ‘pubby’ but it has the bonus of Boot Beer being sold  and, even though great swathes of the boozer is given over to eating, it does have Sky TV and the local brewery, which give it the feel of a (very civilised) pub.

It was heaving when I rolled in and it was, as it nearly always is, full of people eating and drinking.

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However, I actually heard a group of four people on the table next to me talking about Rugby, which is a first in Willington, as they were predicting an England win against New Zealand.

I managed to pull up a chair opposite the politest man in Derbyshire; I asked if could join him and his wife and he confirmed “I’d be delighted if you did.”

Dragon 20.10.19  (13).jpg

I mentioned that I would probably watch the football and he replied with “Is there a game on, I don’t follow football?”

Only in The Dragon would the place be full of punters unaware of this game and whilst he informed his wife that “it’s a Premier League game you know…” she looked about as excited at the prospect of football as Citra would be at the prospect of  a John Smith’s keg only estate boozer.

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His conversation continued and, apart from a couple of blokes obviously settling for the game, most punters were ambivalent about the game and I reckon I could have turned on Free Willy 3 on ITV and no one would have batted an eyelid.

Anyway, The Dragon continues to grow with more function rooms and accommodation whilst Boot Brewery is relocating to bigger premises in Repton as their beer continues to sell well.

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What I’ve neglected to mention of course is that usually this place is full of punters sitting outside and drinking and I can imagine Pete has moored up here and necked a few Carlings in his time.

(view from the pub)

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The temperature appeared to have deterred most today but this would be on most boatmen’s list as a definite stop off for a cracking pint of beer and a bit of food.

(pub to the right)

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The Clod Hopper (Boot) was more than decent and, at £3.70 not the most expensive pint in Derbyshire.

In fact, I reckon Dave and Dick will polish off these three pubs in less than an hour having spent a day in Derby before heading off to Nottingham…over to you guys!

9 thoughts on “Classic Canal Pubs #2: The Dragon At Willington

  1. “This one’s for the Southworths on their next trip to Blighty. ”

    You do realise I plan to be over there sometime in the next two or three years right? 😉

    “they could stop off for a one hour heavy drinking session ‘comfort break’ at Willington.”

    Heavy drinking session usually implies a comfort break. 🙂

    “it has a trio of boozers in close proximity (about a thirty second walk between all three)”

    Sadly lacking over here alas; as Mark and I pointed out in one of Martin’s posts.

    “all you have to do is put on Manchester United v Liverpool on a big screen and the tourists will come flocking.”

    Tourists? 😉

    “but has struck up a deal with the local chippie whereby you can eat their chips in the pub if you buy a pint – genius!”

    Some of the micros over here have a similar arrangement with nearby pizza places… or vice versa. 🙂

    “she looked about as excited at the prospect of football as Citra would be at the prospect of a John Smith’s keg only estate boozer.”

    (slow golf clap)

    “I reckon I could have turned on Free Willy 3 on ITV and no one would have batted an eyelid.”

    Apart from some of the blokes, obs. 😉

    “but this would be on most boatmen’s list as a definite stop off for a cracking pint of beer and a bit of food.”

    No argument here.

    “In fact, I reckon Dave and Dick will polish off these three pubs in less than an hour ”

    Considering Martin recently sank his pint of Bass in 10 minutes then… yep! 🙂

    Cheers

    PS – “which is not only is a couple of minutes from the A50/A38, ”

    One too many is’s there methinks.

    “in the middle of WIllington”

    Got carried away with the capitals in Willington.

    “opposite the politest man Derbyshire”

    Was that his name, or did you miss an ‘in’. 😉

    “apart from a couple of blokes obviously settling for the game, ”

    Either you’re missing an ‘in’ or the blokes would have been happy with Free Willy 3.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the idea of staying in this area and hitting a smaller area hard. We accept the challenge. We can call it “Looking for Ian.” We went to the the Valiant in Leek, and I thought of you! It was the kind of place where anything can happen at anytime. It was an absolute stitch to watch. 2:30 and people were feeling pretty good. And really friendly. I can see what you find in these places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love it! Those edgy places are always much more fun than earnest drinking pubs where people just talk about beer (an honourable exception for Bass of course 😉🔺🔺)
      More than happy to appear for a pint (or two) in Willington in between you boys sampling some east Midlands hospitality 😄🍻

      Like

  3. The first time I visited the Green Dragon (as it was then) was in 1986 – https://pubsthenandnow.blogspot.com/2016/10/willington-derbyshire-1986-to-2015.html (including a nice comment from Alan Winfield)
    If you look closely in the first picture you can see that the Green Dragon was an Ind Coope pub, the Rising Sun a Marston’s establishment and the Green Man was a Bass pub.
    We didn’t return until 2015…and yes, I’ve had a few Carlings in The Dragon since!

    Liked by 1 person

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